Lijiang may not be as popular as other destinations in China – such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi’an – but it has much to offer with its amazing array of food, culture and nature that is often overshadowed by mainstream tourist attractions.
Just a four-hour flight from Beijing, Lijiang is located in Yunnan, one of the provinces with a significant Muslim population.
The highlights of Lijiang…
Lijiang’s Old Town
Lijiang’s Old Town (also known as Dayan Ancient City) is the must-see attraction, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the city centre. Famous for its architecture and water system, the city is filled with traditional Chinese buildings, canals, and cobblestone paths. Walking in this pedestrian-only neighbourhood will make you feel like you’ve travelled back in time to the early 1900s.
However, as the most popular destination in Lijiang, the old town can be noisy and touristy. If you prefer a more quiet place with a similar environment, you may be more interested in…
Shu He’s Old Town
Shu He’s Old Town is another quaint neighbourhood in Lijiang, located 7km northwest from the city, or 30 minutes on public transport. While Shu He may not be as popular as Lijiang’s Old Town, it is equally beautiful. I personally love Shu He more than Lijiang since it is more peaceful, and we can see the Jade Snow Mountain clearly from here.
Black Dragon Pool
You’ve probably seen this on many Chinese postcards – the view of the ancient Chinese temple, lake and snow mountain is just breathtakingly beautiful. It’s also within walking distance from Lijiang’s Old Town.
Jade Dragon Snow Mountain
Saving the best for last. This is an attraction you shouldn’t miss if you’re in Lijiang. Jade Mountain is a small snow mountain located 20km north of Lijiang. While the entry fee is a bit expensive, you won’t regret it once you’ve see the scenery from the top of the mountain. Don’t worry, no climbing experience is needed, but there are stairs if you want to climb as high as 4680 metres. But do remember that the high altitude may make you feel dizzy and breathless, so purchase a can of oxygen and bring some chocolate if you’ve never experienced altitude sickness before.
You’re going to China? What are you going to eat?
I’ve been asked this question many times when I tell my friends that I’m going to China. It turns out that I didn’t have any trouble finding halal food at all, there were a lot of halal food stalls and restaurants in Lijiang. The food is delicious and inexpensive, 10 yuan per meal will be enough to satisfy your hunger.
Some useful tips:
- Since the streets inside the Old Town are paved with slippery cobblestones, avoid using heels or sandals. Opt for a comfortable pair of sneakers.
- Lijiang is quite a small city. The only means of public transportation is bus. However, it’s quite easy to navigate since you can always see the Snow Mountain from the city as an indication of due north.